An unplanned visit to a Thai Disco
It’s a chill Friday evening, we’re seated at Bar stories at Haji Lane sipping some rather well crafted cocktails. I’m constantly checking my phone for updates on the birth of a good friend’s first child, when a suggestion for an unplanned visit to a Thai Disco was raised.
“Have you been to a Thai Disco before?” asked Friend S.”Yupp, I said with certainty.” I had been to one near Orchard Towers, in the course of some ill-fated team-bonding session in a previous job. It was as expected, the girls wore rather little, the music was loud and I couldn’t wait to get out.
“It’s not the same as a disco which plays Thai music. It’s also different from a club in Thailand,” Friend S clarified.
Alas, he was referring to the garlands of the Thai Disco. Upon further elaboration, I was enlightened with respect to the process of 吊。”Diao” which means, to fish.
So imagine a scenario of a girls with garlands, lining up on a stage. If a man shows some interest in her, he could make an offer in monetary terms, and she would keep him company for the next 30 mins to an hour, depending on the potential of his spending power.
It was 11.20pm, nearing my bedtime. I had some work to do before catching a flight to Bali the next day. But for some reason, I found myself stepping into a hall of pounding club music, techno lights, (non-smoking thankfully) and a line-up of girls wearing garlands on stage.
A couple of observations:
For a long while (10 mins or so) there was a line up of girls on stage, with different garlands. Most had red ones, while some had a garland with a “price tag”, like $100 or $200.
Well, I suppose the $100/$200 garland girls looked slightly prettier than the red-garlanded girls, but that’s about it I guess.
As for looks, these girls looked pleasant, with some sex appeal if you are into the thick makeup type. Some wore shimmering tops, others tight shorts, others short dresses with slits by the side, and all wore very thick make-up.
Fundamentally, I disagreed with what the girls were doing. I didn’t think that there was a need to put a price to beauty, or sex appeal. These women had become objects. Alive, sexy, but they had become objects, that could be pointed at with a green laser pointer in the club, similar to a deck of Powerpoint slides that could be pointed at with a laser pointer, at meetings.
‘Don’t you think it’s a bit offensive to point at someone with a laser pointer?’ I asked Friend C. ‘Nope, they use a laser pointer cos it’s quite dark and this is how they ensure that the customer has selected the right one,’ he said.
The practical side in me knew that for a number of girls in the club, participating in ‘diao-ing’ did in a way, offer them opportunities and hope. This club that Friend C had brought us to was ‘decent’ enough – at least I didn’t see displays of affection that warranted a “Get a room.” These girls were merely flirting and dancing with the guys who had diao-ed them.
I rationalised that rather than live a life of a subsistence farmer in rural Thailand, some of these girls had made their way not just to the Bangkok, but to Singapore, the richest country in Southeast Asia. They were probably earning more than an average street hawker in Bangkok, or a dishwasher in one of the five-star hotels in Bangkok. Some of this money may have gone to their families, a payment of debt, education for siblings, a brother perhaps. They could be married.
So I’m hesitant to pass a judgement. I am in no position. I’ve lived a comfortable life for the past twenty-something years of my life. Money is and always will be something I hope for more, but I never had to be worried over the lack of it.
Some people are fine with living the simple life – making ends meet with simple jobs, living from day to day. Others strive for wealth and influence, and are not troubled by the externalities which get them there. To each his own.
And would I judge the men who diao-ed these girls? Probably not, because some of their money goes into helping these girls out. And I can’t pass a judgement especially if these men happen to be my friends.
Diao-ing could be fun, just don’t end up cockblocking yourself
Apologies for using such a non-family friendly term. As far as my non-judgement goes, diao all you want, but just don’t end up cockblocking yourself. Which means to say, don’t let short-term excitement and gratification be in the way of a likely possibility of long-term happiness. : )
Here’s to a happy and fulfilling life, in which ever way that works best for us.
– Written as of 26 August 2016/ updated as of 9 October
The Investing Squid hopes that her social life will revert to the normz soon. After several experiences with Chang Beer towers and Martell with Green Tea, what she really wishes for is a pint of Guinness or a simple Gin and Tonic.